Santa Barbara Volunteer Becomes ‘Part of the Solution’

Updated January 28, 2018

Gayle Labrana, a teacher and former Peace Corps volunteer, felt inspired to lend a hand after recent fires and an unprecedented mudslide devastated her hometown.

After her daughter was evacuated from her home during the Thomas Fire in early December, Gayle sought a way to give back to the community. She reached out to the Red Cross after watching a call for help on the local news.

“Seeing there was something I can do got me away from the TV and on my way to being part of the solution,” Gayle said during a break from a weekend-long training session in Santa Barbara.

Gayle Labrana
Gayle Labrana attends training at the Red Cross Pacific Coast office in Santa Barbara.

Gayle jumped into volunteering wherever she was needed. Just days after becoming a volunteer, she helped at an evacuee shelter for three days. She then took training to become a Red Cross caseworker, an instrumental member of the recovery team, and Home Fire Campaign volunteer.

In just a few weeks, she has given over 40 hours of her time and is excited to get more involved.

“Meeting people from all aspects of life balances us all out [in this time of need],” she shares. “I am more thankful after this experience.”

Gayle is particularly interested in learning about community planning and preparedness.

“I feel protected and prepared to help out. As a community, we can endure anything that comes up.”

Over the last three weeks, the Pacific Coast Chapter has seen a tremendous outpouring of volunteer support. Nearly 300 new volunteers have participated in orientation, training and/or completed a shift.

For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact volunteer.centralca@redcross.org.

Story and Photo by Jocelyn Hillard, Red Cross public affairs

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